This reflection was written for the Devotions From Home series of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. It is intended to be a synopsis of the Sunday sermon sent to those who can not make it to church regularly. Audio of sermons and other material can be found at www.stpaulspgh.org.
Easter Sunday - April 16
We live in a world that sends us messages, that teaches us stories – stories that limit our vision. Stories about violence being a solution, stories about how success is measured through what we have, what we own, stories about thin being better, busyness being a sign of value or strength, and that protecting what is ours, should happen at any cost, and death always wins. Stories that can shape our reality, shape our vision. Limit our reality, limit our vision.
We all can so easily become stuck, whatever the reason. Become stuck in a vision that is shallow, or enclosed. A vision where we cannot see that there will ever be a way out, another way to go, an alternate way to live. A vision where death has won, and life seems to have lost.
That’s where Hope comes in. That’s where we need resurrection eyes to see. Eyes that see new life coming out of death, renewal out of destruction, hope in despair. Easter prods and provokes us with an immense stretching exercise. God has renewed a life given to the evil of this world on behalf of those with no other helper. That earth-shattering and tomb-shattering rebirth has planted the seeds of hope in each one of us. Yet those seeds do not produce fruit without struggle. We learn, we practice, we develop those resurrection eyes.
Seeing the world through the eyes of God, through the eyes of resurrection is hard work. A few years ago, our former Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori says ”We are not born with the ability to insist on resurrection everywhere we turn. It takes the discipline and repetition that forms an athlete – in this case, a spiritually fit Christian. We practice our faith because we must – it withers and atrophies unless it's stretched. We must continue to give evidence of the faith that is within us.” And this is not something you can do alone. The shared hope of a community is essential.
The Christian community is meant to be a “mutual hope society,” with each one offering courage to another whose hope has waned, insisting that even in the darkest of night, new life is being prepared. A community showing us that there is no experience, there is no evil, no loss, no dark place – that God cannot bring new life out of. That work of learning Hope is constant – it will not end until the end of all things.
Together we can shout, "Alleluia, he is risen! Indeed, he is risen, Alleluia!" even when some among us are not quite so confident as others. Even when some struggle, as others rejoice. The entire community is rising and risen when even a small part of it can rejoice and insist that God is renewing the face of the earth, and their own lives, and light has dawned upon us.